Snow proves a big obstacle for area firefighters

WASHINGTON, W.Va. – Snowy conditions added another layer of difficulty for local fire departments battling blazes Sunday and Monday.

Two engines became stuck in the snow Sunday en route to a fire on Norris Road in the Hyview Terrace subdivision in Washington, Chief K.C. Linder of the Washington Bottom Volunteer Fire Department said. The house, owned by Bob Charlton, and the belongings inside, were destroyed in the fire, he said.

The fire was reported at 9:15 p.m. by neighbors, but it had apparently been burning for a while before that, Linder said.

“No one saw the fire and called it in until it was through the roof,” he said.

The Charltons were not home at the time of the fire, Linder said.

“He and his wife were at church,” he said.

A cause has yet to be determined, but the fire appears to have started in the basement of the two-story structure, Linder said. The Wood County Fire Investigation Team is investigating, he said.

Recent freezing and thawing caused berms and even some portions of roads to give way under the weight of the fire trucks, Linder said. Two trucks were caught in the snow and had to be towed away. Firefighters were instructed to install chains on the tires after that, he said.

“We were going up a very long, very steep hill,” Linder said. “It was horrible weather.”

The department asked for assistance from the East Wood and Little Hocking fire departments, which brought water trucks, he said.

On Sunday, the Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department responded to a fire on Beechwood Drive. When they arrived, one truck pulled off the driveway and its tires sank in the mud. By the time the fire was out, snow had started to fall and it was too slick for a tow truck to pull the fire engine out, said Lubeck Assistant Chief Jason Blue. The first truck couldn’t get around the one that was stuck, so both had to remain there.

“We abandoned them for the night,” Lubeck Chief Mark Stewart said.

The fire destroyed the house, he said. The cause is being investigated by the county Fire Investigation Team.

Lubeck firefighters responded to at least eight accidents Sunday, three of which involved injuries. Vienna volunteer firefighters provided coverage for the Lubeck station during all the activity, said Vienna Chief Steve Scholl.

Things were less hectic for Scholl’s department. Their first and only significant call came in around 9 a.m. Monday, he said, when accumulated snow caused several large branches to fall from a tree on 30th Street near 10th Avenue in Vienna. He and two other firefighters cut the limbs up with a chainsaw and moved them out of the road.

“I think there’ll be a lot of assist calls today, but I hope we don’t have anything major,” Scholl said. “It’s just not good weather for that.”

Parkersburg Fire Capt. Tim Flinn said that department didn’t have any significant problems overnight, but noted snowy weather does present its share of challenges.

“It affects our mobility more than anything, and sometimes our response time can be hampered by locating fire hydrants,” he said.

Although the warmer weather coming after last week’s frigid cold made roads more treacherous, it did lessen the chances of water freezing in the hose, Linder said.

When temperatures are at zero or below, “those are extremely difficult due to the fact that you have to keep water moving at all times,” he said.